Sharing Lamb with Ribbon Courgette, Mint Yogurt & Hazelnuts

This sharing lamb with ribboned courgettes, rocket leaves and minty yogurt dressing is a real treat and bursting with flavour.  You can barbecue, griddle or grill the lamb but at this time of year it feels great to cook (and eat) outdoors, weather permitting.  Meat can absolutely be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet but its important to prioritise nutrient-dense and fibre-rich whole foods on a daily basis (think green leafy and starchy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and some fruits). You could very easily substitute with sirloin steak or butterflied chicken breast depending on personal tastes, but lamb works particularly well with these flavours. This dish is a lovely treat and proof that healthy does not equal boring…..I hope you enjoy it!

Serves 2 | Preparation Time: 10 minutes | Rating: Moderate

You Will Need:

The Lamb:

  • 2 lamb steaks
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A good pinch of sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano leaves (or 1tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (or 1tsp dried)

The Courgette & Rocket Salad:

  • 2 medium sized courgettes
  • 2 cups rocket leaves
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 oz (about 1 tbsp) finely chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

The Mint Yogurt Dressing:

  • 30g plain, low fat natural yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and crushed (optional)

To Serve: 2 small wholemeal flatbreads (optional – add approx.130 calories per serving, check brand info)

Method:

  1. Prepare the salad: Trim the ends of the courgette and use a vegetable peeler to cut the courgette lengthwise into ribbons.  Scatter onto a large serving plate with sprinkle of sea salt.  Rinse and drain the rocket leaves, and scatter on top of the courgette with the sliced spring onion.
  2. Prepare the mint yogurt: Put the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, mint, capers and water into a bowl and stir well with a fork to combine. Season lightly with a little salt set aside.
  3. To cook the lamb: pre-heat a grill, barbecue or griddle pan to medium. Season the lamb steaks with salt and pepper, rub with olive oil and the finely chopped fresh herbs. Sear the lamb on both sides for 3-5 minutes each side (3 minutes for medium, 5 minutes for well done).  Remove from the grill and leave to rest before trimming the fat off the meat and slicing into strips.
  4. To assemble: transfer the lamb onto the serving plate or board on top of the courgette and rocket leaves. Sprinkle over the hazelnuts and a few dollops of mint yogurt. Serve alone as a salad or with wholemeal flatbreads.

Nutrition Approx.

Created by: Pamela Ryan Qualified Nutritionist*

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

* Pamela Ryan (Dip.NT, NTOI) is a Qualified Nutritional Therapist recognised by the Nutritional Therapists of Ireland (NTOI), the professional association supporting qualified nutritional therapists. All NTOI members study biomedicine and nutrition for a minimum of 3 years at a recognised college, are trained in clinical practice and must comply with NTOI requirements for Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Nutritional Therapy is an evidence-based approach to maximising health through individually formulated nutrition and lifestyle strategies. Pamela continues to attend training and lectures on a regular basis through various bodies including The Institute of Functional Medicine and The Institute of Health Sciences. These trainings help her to gain increased expertise in the ever advancing field of nutrition.

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5 HEALTHY + PORTABLE SNACK IDEAS

Because this is my last week of recipes I’m a little spoilt for choice as regards what to share next. I couldn’t, and didn’t want to choose, so I’m sharing a medley of my favourite snacks, from simplest to some more interesting options.  There are five in total which I hope will provide something for everyone’s tastes. All are dairy, grain and gluten-free, some are entirely ‘plant-based’. The common denominator is that they are all made from very simple whole-foods.  If you’re having guests you could make a ‘snack platter’…..otherwise just prepare them all as you wish and squirrel them away in your car / handbag / desk drawer / goodie-drawer for those afternoons when you just need a little nibble!

CRUNCHY APPLE WITH CREAMY PB + CINNAMON  (serves 1)

  • 1 apple
  • 1-2 tbsp Meridian peanut or almond butter*
  • A good pinch of ground cinnamon

Instructions: I hardly need to provide instruction but here goes! Slice the apple, dip or spread with peanut butter and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Simple.

Good For: Peanut butter provides protein. Apple provides pectin (fibre) for gut health and cinnamon can help to balance blood sugar.

HARD BOILED EGGS, SUMAC + AVOCADO (serves 1)

  • 2 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1/3 tsp sumac (a citrus spice made from red berries of the sumac shrub)
  • 1 small (or 1/2 medium) avocado
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions: Boil eggs in a pan of water for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool before peeling off the shell. Store in a small lunch box or lunch bag. To serve slice open, sprinkle with sumac. Half the avocado, sprinkle with sea salt and pile scoops onto your egg.

Good For: Low carbohydrate (sugar) option. High protein + fat keeps you full. Egg provides essential minerals and amino acids. Avocado is rich in fibre, folate, potassium and vitamin E.

TAMARI ROAST NUTS + SEEDS (makes 10-12 1oz servings)

  • 5 cups of mixed raw nuts (brazil, pecan, almond, walnut, macadamia)
  • 1/4 cup of seeds (sunflower / pumpkin)
  • 1 tbsp Optima raw virgin coconut oil*
  • 1 tbsp tamari (gluten free, GMO-free soy sauce)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 180C. Melt the coconut oil with the tamari in a saucepan over a medium heat. Dump in the nuts and seeds and combine well. Spread onto a roasting tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and crisp before decanting into a glass airtight jar.

Good For: Nuts and seeds are some of the most nutrient dense foods in existence. Low carbohydrate but high in essential fats, protein and antioxidant nutrients Vitamin E, selenium and zinc. Consuming a handful of nuts daily is associated with lower body fat and BMI.

DARK CHOCOLATE + CHILLI MANGO (makes 4-6 servings)

  • 50g 85% cacao dark chocolate, melted
  • 100g organic dried mango (no added sugars, sulphites, preservatives)
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions: Dip the mango into the melted dark chocolate (half-way) and set each piece onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle the chocolate end with chilli flakes and sea salt and allow to set. Transfer to a jar.

Good For:  A quick energy boost. Mango (especially dried variety) is higher in simple sugars that your body can absorb and utilise quickly. Good for athletes pre- and post-training (if post training, add a hard boiled egg or a protein shake to optimise tissue repair and muscle growth).

CHOCOLATE NUT + GOJI BERRY BRITTLE (makes about 10-12 cupped handfuls)

  • 100g mixed nuts
  • 1 heaping handful of Nua naturals goji berries*
  • 1 handful Nua naturals cacao nibs* (optional)
  • 80g dark chocolate (85% cacao content or above)
  • Pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Nua naturals raw cacao powder*

Instructions: Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, reduce the heat and place a pyrex bowl on top. Break the dark chocolate into chunks and melt. When the chocolate is melted tip the nuts, gogi berries, cacao nibs and sea salt into the bowl with the chocolate and mix well to combine. Spread onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes until almost set. Remove from the fridge and dust with cacao powder. Place back in the fridge for 10 minutes. Break up the chunks of brittle and transfer to a large glass container. Store in the fridge.

Good For: Premenstrual symptoms such as low mood, anxiety and sugar or chocolate cravings. Cacao is a natural mood elevator and is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins which are all particularly important for menstrual health. Nuts provide satiating essential fats, antioxidant vitamin E and selenium and zinc which are essential for male and female reproductive health.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

NORI + BLACK SESAME MACRO BOWLS: MAIN

Macro bowls are a simplified way of eating nutrient-dense, whole foods with the added benefit that you don’t need to follow an ‘exact’ recipe. You get to choose your favourite seasonal vegetables, your preferred carbohydrate and protein sources and you can select from lots of extra superfood add ons depending on what you fancy.  It’s a good idea to batch cook rice, other grains or sweet potatoes in advance and roast a whole chicken so you can use the leftovers for quick meals or packed lunches during the week.

HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT MACRO BOWL:

Foundation: each macro bowl is a combination of grains, vegetables, beans, meat or fish; and seaweeds or fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi. There is no correct breakdown of macronutrients but here are some rough guidelines (men can double the wholegrain and protein portions).

Wholegrain: 1 heaped handful of cooked grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet or cooked sweet potato.

Vegetables: 1-2 fistfuls of raw or very lightly steamed vegetables such as kale, spring onions, broccoli, carrots, beetroot, green beans.

Protein: A palm-sized portion of cooked free-range chicken breast or baked wild salmon; 150g raw, hard tofu or a cup of beans such as cooked edamame or black beans.

Fermented Foods or Sea Vegetables: 1-2 tablespoons. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi support healthy digestion and gut health. Sea vegetables such as nori, wakame, pulse and kombu are a valuable source of bioavailable essential minerals such as iodine, magnesium and sulphur and support hormonal health.

Seeds, Nuts, Oils + Condiments: Black or white sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds can be toasted for extra flavour. Toasted sesame oil and coconut oil are great for Asian themed bowls. Try extra virgin olive oil infused with red chilli, herbs or garlic for a Mediterranean theme.  For condiments I like tamari (a gluten free, non-GMO soy sauce), pickled ginger, pickled beetroot, tahini, basil or tomato pesto. Include 1-2 tbsp of seeds plus 1/2 to 1 tbsp oils or other oil based condiments.

FOR MY NORI + BLACK SESAME MACRO BOWELS

YOU WILL NEED:

(serves 1 – double / triple ingredients for additional servings).

  • 100g raw long-grain brown rice (weighs about 200g cooked)
  • 1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil or melted coconut oil*
  • 1 cooked, skinless chicken breast (125g) or, 2 soft-boiled eggs or, 1 cup cooked black beans or, 150g raw firm tofu
  • 1/2 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/4 sheet of nori (seaweed) cut into matchsticks using a scissors
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook the rice according to packet instructions (generally 1 part rice to 1.75 parts water and simmer for 15 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile prepare your choice of protein: shred the cooked chicken breast / place the eggs into a saucepan of water and simmer for 3 minutes, cool, remove the shell and halve / Drain the black beans and heat gently in a saucepan for 5 minutes / slice the tofu into cubes and stir into the rice.
  3. In a bowl combine the rice, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tamari and coconut or sesame oil.
  4. To build the macro-bowl spoon the rice into the bowl. Add the chicken/egg/beans/tofu. Tuck the carrot matchsticks between the chicken and rice and sprinkle with spring onion, nori and extra sesame seeds. Serve.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Servings Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Chicken Breast Macro Bowl 434 15.5g 38.3g 32.4g 1.9g 4.1g
Egg Macro Bowl 424 23.6g 18.4g 32.3g 1.7g 3.5g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

TOASTED SOURDOUGH WITH: ALMOND & AVOCADO, COCONUT & BLUBERRY OR PEANUT BUTTER & BANANA! – SNACK

Toast. Pretty much universally adored and missed most by low carb aficionados (though they would completely deny it!!). The fact is bread is perfectly fine as part of a balanced diet. But I have only one rule. Please get yourself a decent loaf of real bread! That is, bread that doesn’t have a ‘best before’ date or more than 3-4 main ingredients (unless you are buying gluten-free). My top recommendation is a good quality sourdough.

Sourdough is more digestible and nutritious than industrial loaves thanks to naturally occurring acids that ferment the dough to bread down phytates (which impair nutrient absorption) and gluten (which may cause intolerances, though not to be confused with celiac disease). This fermentation process makes nutrients more available for absorption, and renders simple sugars less available, which may help to control blood sugar, particularly for people with diabetes.

This is not so much a strict recipe as it is a source of ideas for making a slice of toast into a nutritious, energy sustaining, mid-afternoon or evening snack. My advice is to stay away from overly processed shop bought spreads and try to make your own, or purchase whole, nut or seed spreads with no added sugars or oils. Real Irish butter, goats butter, olive oil or even coconut oil are also perfectly fine options if you’re not a fan of nut and seed spreads.

Serves: one to multiple

You will need:

  • Bread: 1 slice per person (I used a small loaf of german-style rye sourdough bread).
  • Nut Butters* (1 tbsp per person): choose from Meridian Almond butter, Meridian Peanut Butter and Coconut Butter.
  • Fruits: choose banana and avocado (3-4 slices per person), or blueberries (2 tbsp per person).
  • Nuts, Seeds & Sprinkles (1/3 tbsp) per person: 85% cacao dark chocolate (grated), black sesame seeds, coconut flake, ground cinnamon.

Topping Combinations featured:

  • Savoury: Crunchy Almond butter, Avocado & Black Sesame Seeds
  • A bit posh: Coconut butter, Crushed Blueberries & dark chocolate
  • Old-school: Crunchy Peanut butter, banana, cinnamon & coconut shavings

Instructions:

  1. Simple! Lay out small bowls and jars of your favourite toppings. Toast the bread and get creative!

To make your own coconut butter: dump 250g unsweetened desiccated coconut into a high-speed food processor and pulse for 8-10 minutes until smooth and runny. Decant into an airtight jar and store at room temperature. Note: coconut butter tends to harden even in the warmest cupboards. To soften, submerge the jar in warm water for 10 minutes before use.

To make other nut butters: you only need ONE ingredient to make any nut butter! Nuts! If you roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 150C (350F) you will get a lovely creamy texture as roasting helps to release the natural oils in nuts.  My favourites are walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds. Macadamias are also great but quite pricey! Cool the nuts slightly before tossing into a food processor and blending for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and creamy.  Store in an airtight jar.

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Option Serving Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Almond Butter, Avocado + Black Sesame Seeds 1 slice 266 15.7g 8g 26.7g 2.6g 5.8g
Coconut Butter, Blueberry & dark chocolate shavings 1 slice 239 13g 3.5g 28g 6.2g 3g
Peanut butter, banana & coconut 1 slice 259 11.1g 8.1g 32.6g 9.3g 4.4g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

CHOCOLATE FRUIT & NUT SQUARES – SNACK

Combining nuts and dates to create tasty raw treats is nothing new, a very well known chocolate confectionery brand has been doing a fruit & nut bar since 1926 and we all remember the ad campaign slogan sung to the tune of The Nutcracker!  I understand that the point to snack foods is that they are convenient. That being said putting an hour’s effort into making your own treats means you have a ready supply in the fridge for weeks, but more importantly you are avoiding ingredients such as artificial flavourings, emulsifiers and inflammatory vegetable fats, as well excessive sugar and trans fats.

A standard shop-bought fruit & nut bar will serve up 270 calories and 30g of sugar, which is  listed as the second ingredient after milk. In comparison this recipe provides 182 calories per serving and only 8g of sugars. There is no added vegetable oils with the only fats coming from the natural fats found in whole nuts and seeds that are linked to improved cognitive function, lower body fat, better blood lipid profile and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Using whole, natural foods provides fibre and a range of nutrients including antioxidant vitamin E, biotin for healthy skin, hair and nails, magnesium, manganese and copper. Even chocolate has its benefits but you must choose the darker kind. The darker the chocolate, the less likely there is to be added ingredients such as soya lecithin and other emulsifiers. I like either Green & Blacks Organic 85% or Lindt as ingredients are simply cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla.

Given the sheer variety of nuts, seeds and superfood powders available these days there are endless options to cater for everyone’s tastes. Chocolate and hazelnuts are an age-old match made in heaven but you can use equivalent quantities of other nuts and seeds depending on your preferences or whatever you have available. You can also leave out the chocolate (but why would you want to do that?!).

(makes 16 bars)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (140g) whole almonds
  • 1 cup (135g) whole hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup (40g) hulled hemp seeds (NUA NATURALS)*
  • 10 dates (sulphur-free, pitted)
  • 1/4 cup (3-4 tbsp) maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (50g) jumbo oats
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour(NUA NATURALS)*
  • 100g 85% dark chocolate
  • Coconut oil for lining the baking tray (OPTIMA)*

Topping Options: toasted coconut flakes, cacao nibs, chopped hazelnuts

Instructions

  1. Line a bakingtray with parchment and spread with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a blenderpulse the almonds and hazelnuts until they look like a coarse sand.
  3. Add the hemp seeds, dates, maple syrup, salt, oats andcoconut flour. Blitz again until well combined. The mixture should ‘stick’ a little when pressed.
  4. Dump the mixture onto the lined baking tray and use your hands to press down until its about an inch thick. If the tray is larger than normal, fold the parchment in over the free edge of the mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour to set.
  6. In the meantime break the chocolate into small pieces and place into aPyrex dish over a pan of hot water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Allow the chocolate to melt completely and then remove from the stove.
  7. Remove the nut mixture from the fridge and pourthe chocolate over the top, tilting the baking tray around until the chocolate is evenly spread.
  8. Sprinkle with your chosen topping and place back into the fridge to set.
  9. Once set use a sharp knife to cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for 8 weeks.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
182 13g 5g 13.3g 8g 3g
An excellent source of vitamin E, biotin, manganese, copper, magnesium & antioxidants

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores